Sit back for a moment and reminisce with me if you will…
Remember the days spent with your sweet, soft newborn? That smell of freshly-bathed baby just can’t be bottled. Entire days, or a good portion of them, spent on a rocker or in a recliner, nursing and humming lullaby’s and then perhaps grabbing a few winks for yourself to catch up on an interrupted night’s sleep. Long walks in the park or neighborhood with your darlin’ either napping or looking at all the newness that is to be seen along the way: trees, clouds, sky, buildings, kids playing.
The utter peace and joy of being a new parent. And even if your situation was not quite as charming, there are few times along the journey of parenting that are as satisfying or joyful.
Along the way, however, it may feel that you somehow and somewhere lost that joy.
Colic, attachment anxiety, terrible twos, picky eaters, temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, growing pains, discipline issues, hormonal mood swings (yours and theirs) all tend to rear their ugly heads along the way, and, if we’re not careful, dampen the spark the was lit when that tiny bundle of joy was first placed in your arms.
If you find yourself in that camp, let me be the bearer of good news and tell you that it IS possible to rekindle the joy of parenting – no matter how you’re feeling today!
How joy is extinguished
I find it telling and yet frustrating that while many of us are often in search of joy (but perhaps better-described as happiness) that very quality can be at the same time so very elusive. I mean, how many times have you been sitting at a friend’s house, contentedly talking with her while the kids play sweetly nearby, when all of a sudden a clamor breaks out and you find your nerves and your teeth on edge while you mutter, perhaps not so quietly under your breath, “Can’t I get just a FEW minutes with a friend without any interruptions?” or “Do you always have to start fussing with each other?”
Joy is extinguished when we:
- begin to focus on how our own needs are not being met, or
- concentrate on the minor challenge immediately before us, and lose sight of the big-picture satisfaction down the road, or
- compare our own situation or experience unfairly and usually incorrectly with that of someone else, or
- allow ourselves to let fear or worry take over our emotions.
And while it may be easily and often lost, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The joy of parenthood can be something you carry with you throughout your lifetime. From first-time mommy all the way through toddler-hood, tween, teens and beyond, it can always be available to you! I promise!
How to Rekindle Joy in Your Parenthood
The world would tell us that in order to rekindle our joy – in any situation – we need to tend to our own needs first. At the risk of getting blasted by the counseling and psychology-related professions for saying this, I believe that doing just that is in fact at the root of our problem.
Considering the ways we diminish or destroy our joy, let me present a few ways to rekindle it, and provide you with Scriptural back-up for them.
Problem: We focus on how our own needs are not being met.
Solution: Despite what we think or how we feel, it is not the job of our kids or our spouse to fulfill our needs. Instead, grab a hot shower or go for a walk or kneel by your bed and share your feelings with the One who can!
Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Problem: We focus on the problem before us rather than the promises ahead or his provision in the past.
Solution: Understand and accept this – kids will misbehave and disappoint you, you will get tired and discouraged at times, and you will feel inadequate and unprepared for tasks periodically. But remember what He has already done and equipped you for, and thank Him in faith for what He will do!
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Problem: We allow fear or worry to consume our lives.
Solution: Seek solace from God. Ask Him to fill you with peace, and His Holy Spirit, and make provision for your needs.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
Rekindling the joy of parenthood has nothing at all to do with minimizing or eliminating the trials and pitfalls that come with the role, as if we could.
There is ultimately only one source of joy and peace in any and all situations we will ever be in…and parenting is no exception!
Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her brood of 5 for almost 20 years. With a passion for encouraging moms in their parenting and homeschooling efforts, she shares experience-inspired wisdom and sweet encouragement over at patandcandy.com. Sign up at their site for free printables and other “members only” materials to help you be the best you can be for your family! Stay connected with them over at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, too!